A recent story about wicca/witchcraft becoming one of the fastest growing religions in the Hudson Valley sheds light on the rising popularity of “the Craft,” thanks in part to pop culture which presents the occult as being “hip” rather than what it is – extremely dangerous.
News12 reported on an investigation into the rise of witchery in the Hudson Valley which included on-camera interviews with witches while they performed a healing ritual. Reporter Tara Rosenblum said the modern-day witches she encountered were from all walks of life – from nurses to lawyers to churchgoers – and said most feel they need to be quiet about it for fear of losing respect in the community.
“Third-degree Wiccan high priestess Lisa Stewart said the duotheistic religion is a mysterious, feminist and nature-focused religion that rewards faith and patience with magic,” Rosenblum reports. “They said their magic is capable of things like curing illnesses, getting a raise at work and helping people find love.”
She goes on to report that Wiccans adhere to a strict moral code which is similar to karma in that whatever action one performs – good or evil – it will come back threefold.
Steward and her husband operate the only legally recognized Wiccan church in the state, known as the Church of the Eternal Circle, which is located behind their metaphysical shop in New Paltz. Customers can come there to have their “spirits cleansed, spells cast or long-lost loved ones summoned.”
In other words, they are performing sorcery and necromancy (summoning of the dead) on their premises, both of which rely on demonic powers.
Sadly, Steward said that on most Fridays they have to turn people away.
But the new breed of witches come from the rising number of people who chose to abandon “mainstream religion” and are now filling the void with other types of “spirituality.” Having no mature understanding of the supernatural realm other than what they can find on the internet or in the movies, they’re not only buying into the practice, but also into a wide range of products associated with the Craft. This has, in turn, made witchcraft both a spiritual practice and a trendy new brand.
“The range of products now marketed as having some connection to witchcraft and the occult is truly vast, and while physical stores selling occult items have had a modest presence in small towns and big cities across North America for decades, online retail has really allowed the trade in all things witchy to take off,” reports Corin Faife for BuzzFeedNews.com.
“It’s now possible to sign up for monthly subscription boxes to deliver spiritual items to your door: The owner of one such business, Goddess Provisions, said her customer base has grown from 300 subscribers to almost 6,000 in the last year and a half. But the real gravitational center of the online witchcraft economy is Etsy, the marketplace that has revolutionized the way handcraft makers of all kinds list and sell their products online.”
Even though Etsy banned “metaphysical services” from making claims of efficacy on their site, they sell more than 28,000 items pertaining to witchcraft, Faife reports. These range from “laurel wands to animal bones, leather-bound grimoires to tie-dye sigils.”
The company says searches for witchcraft-related items has risen 30 percent and purchases are up 60 percent from 2015 to 2017.
Instagram is another place where promoters of witchcraft are making inroads.
“Over the past few years the image-sharing app has become a gathering place for younger witches, where tags like #witch(more than 3.7 million posts), #witchy (more than 600,000) and #witchesofinstagram (nearly 700,000) bring a community together around a constellation of imagery, including jewelery, makeup, séance circles, tattoos, astrological charts, herbs, crystals, and lots of vaguely gothic selfies.”
In my experience of corresponding with people who are involved in the New Age and the occult who write to our Q&A blog from all over the world, most people have little more than a rudimentary knowledge about the occult, the devil, and the consequences of being in contact with dark powers. Sadly, we don’t hear from most until after they’ve been injured by these practices.
These cries for help come from people who dabbled in witchcraft, divination (tarot, Ouija, etc.), sorcery (magic/spellcasting), necromancy (summoning the dead, seances), and various forms of New Age energy medicine (Reiki) who are now suffering from hauntings, curses, and a host of physical and mental issues including paranoia, insomnia, mental confusion, heart palpitations, depression and suicidal ideation.
Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Exorcists have been saying for years that the increase popularity of occult-based books (Potter et al), games (Ouija) and practices (witchcraft, psychics and mediums) has caused an alarming spike in the number of people in need of deliverance and outright exorcism.
This fact is confirmed by Fr. Francesco Bamonte, president of the Italy-based International Association for Exorcists which was founded in 1993 by Rome’s chief exorcist, the late Fr. Gabriele Amorth.
“Diabolical possessions are on the increase as a result of people subscribing to occultism,” Fr. Bamonte told La Republicca in 2014. “The few exorcists that we have in the dioceses are often not able to handle the enormous number of requests for help.” Many of these people, who once thought they were just having a little fun with a hip new trend, are now very much on their own as they search for priests who are schooled in ministry to this increasingly large population.
Mainstream religion might seem boring to some, but it’s far better to be bored than left to suffer what Satan would like to do to me if he had the chance.